Ask any Melbournian and they will recommend a visit to the Great Ocean Road, it’s a simple masterpiece. With a length of 243 km, the Great Ocean Road contains something new and exciting every turn of the corner, whether it be a different landscape, another vibrant coastal town or a forest. Starting in Torquay and ending in Allansford, the Great Ocean road covers hundreds and thousands of landmarks, towns and events. I will cover the major attractions that are along the Great Ocean Road and some advice for those who want to have a fun driving experience.
The most famous attractions lay beyond the Otways national park, but we will start our coverage of the top ten places to visit along the Great Ocean Road from the start (east end).
Probably one of the most well known attractions along the great ocean road and would definitely need a visit. The 12 apostles, well actually only 8 now are giant limestone stacks that are just off the shore. They are an incredible site to see with their giant tall structures being crushed by the white waves, making it a fantastic piece to photograph and view. There is a dedicated discovery centre with lookouts and I would definitely recommend walking all the way down to the beach to view the 12 apostles. The stacks currently erode at 2cm per year due to the harsh nature of the southern ocean, hence I believe you must visit these mammoths before they all collapse and erode away.
Otways national park
The Otways national park is a fantastic national park along the Great Ocean Road and has some of the best roads to drive along. The national park itself contains 3 waterfalls which are a must visit and contain a huge range of different plant life, animal life and fungi. It is a perfect place for a picnic, mountain bike ride and camping. The Otways have a lot to offer which treetop adventures, hundreds of walking tracks and a seaside view at the edge of the national park. There are an abundance of lakes and rivers, making the Otways a photographers dream. Close to the Otways, there is a fantastic windy road which I would highly recommend any driver to visit, Turtons track. Make sure to have tyres with plenty of grip and are comfortable to drive on these windy roads. It is a fantastic drive with wonderful scenery and greenery that surrounds you, it truly is a magical experience.
Remember the childhood nursery rhyme of London bridge is falling down? Well the London Bridge along the Great Ocean Road has in fact fallen down and has now taken on the name of London Arch. It is a natural arch caused by erosion and used to be connected to the mainland, however in 1990 the arch connecting the bridge to the mainland collapsed and thus now is called London Arch. It is still a fantastic natural arch to look at with and provides fantastic photography opportunities.
Loch Ard Gorge
Just situated 3 minutes away from the 12 apostles, the Loch Ard Gorge is gorgeous. Visitors are allowed to walk down the beach and see in beautiful beach in all its glory. It is fantastic on a warm day and also provides moody photos on a cloudy day. It was named after a ship with ran around on a nearby island, leaving on 2 survivors out of the 54 on board. The Loch Ard Gorge has served many purposes in film and media and will continue to be one of the most beautiful attractions along the Great Ocean Road. Make sure to bring your towel and bathers if you would want a dip! The water is crystal clear and I couldn’t resist dipping my toes in the water.
Apollo Bay is a coastal town situated before the Otways national park and definitely deserves a visit for a lunch stop. There is a lot on offer in this town with fantastic eateries, sea-side views and even the chance to catch a few whales. Southern right whales are known to breed in the area and there have been many sightings of humpback whales in the vicinity. Other towns to visit include, Lorne and Torquay. In fact, I would recommend stopping at as many coastal towns as possible as each has a different vibe, atmosphere and culture.
The razorback is another rock formation that is situated very closely to the Loch Ard Gorge. The name is given to this rock formation with the way it looks due to the wind and water erosion the rock has experienced over the many years. The walking path is a loop and you have a fantastic view of the other rock formations surrounding the Great Ocean Road.
No surprises here, the blowhole spurts out water on the viewing flatforms and surrounding rocks. It is a fantastic way to cool down on a hot summer’s day and also creates some very interesting long exposure photography. The blowhole is located near the Loch Ard Gorge, but mind you the sea-spray on a calm day can be little to none. The area is also heavily vegetated, so please be careful when making your way to view the blowhole.
The arch, different to London Arch, is a natural formation of an arch located not too far away from the 12 apostles. There is now parking and access to the arch and is a fantastic thing to view no matter what time of the day. It is a quieter attraction which is good to take a breather here and there. There are stairs and walkways to get close to the arch, however getting very close to the arch does require going off roading (with your legs).
Bay of Martyrs
Situated closer to the west end of the Great Ocean Road, the bay of martyrs is one of the most beautiful sites along the great ocean road with plentiful bird wildlife. There are guided walks here and is a prominent sunset destination with its large open views with the limestone cliff edges, reefs and the sparkling water. Some have said the bay has better views than the 12 apostles and are less crowded. I would place this as un underrated spot to visit along the great ocean road.
Bay of Islands
The bay of islands, close to Warrnambool, has spectacular sights and is definitely worth the trip . Many tourists often miss the parts beyond London Arch, however I strongly recommend to travel further to these locations due to their fantastic views and low crowds, making it feel like a private beach. It is quiet and relaxing, a great escape from everyday life. Yet again, the locals have rated this higher than the 12 Apostles and I don’t blame them.
When travelling along the Great Ocean Road, ensure to travel early in the morning to avoid large tour groups and parking can be limited so be prepared to park far away and walk for the most part. Ensure to pack plenty of water and snacks and definitely bring a DSLR if you have one. If you are unsure as to which DSLR to buy, refer to this guide. Make sure to put the Great Ocean road on your bucket list, you will not regret it. Summer, Winter, rain or shine, there is never a bad day to visit the Great Ocean Road as each climate has a different mood and different perspective.